news flash

A Busy Saturday Morning

I brought Dwight (my accordion) to our Music Together class yesterday. I had worked up simple arrangements of three songs from the current songbook, and accompanied the class while they sang and danced. (I sang along where possible too, but was thinking too hard most of the time.) It was so much fun, I'm looking forward to doing it again sometime. I also want to bring the uke in at some point.

After class we went to Verizon Wireless to look at the new Droid, which Laura went ahead and bought. (I'm officially jealous. I love my Samsung Flipshot, but man is that thing sexy.) The kids entertained the sales guys by pretending to talk on the dummy model phones throughout the store. One of the guys went in back and got a couple of discontinued models, and gave them to the kids as toys. They were so proud. They've been making pretend phonecalls on them ever since.

Then, next door to Verizon is a Tae Kwon Do school, and they were celebrating their fourth anniversary with free food, demonstrations, a bounce house, and cake. The kids had a ball and wore themselves out. Riley was imitating the demonstrators, kicking and shouting an approximation of "hyah!" We got to thinking about how martial arts would teach a lot of the things that Riley needs most: confidence, discipline, focus. We spoke with the manager, and she was very supportive, saying they work with special needs kids all the time. She set Riley up with an instructor -- a teenage boy who surprised us by being really good with Riley. We signed Riley up for classes. He seems excited about it, we're hopeful he'll participate well.

(Of course, as I typed this he was screaming his lungs out, in protest of being sent to "quiet time" for having screamed about having to wear non-preferred underwear because he wet his Spongebob ones. So we shall see. Rome wasn't built in a day and so on.)
normal

Userpic meme

Baaaa. Got this from snobahr, whom I solicited to ask me about a handful of my userpics. The meme text says:
If you comment here, I'll choose five of your icons to ask you about. (Or, if you have fewer than five icons, I'll just choose one.) Then you do might a post explaining the significance of those icons.

But you can also comment here if you just want to ask about another of my icons but don't want to do the meme. I'll add it to the list below.

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sidelong

Real Conversation with a Seven-Year-Old

Other Guy: So your job is to stay at home with these two?
Me (spinning Lydia in the air): Yup.
7-year-old: Your job is to stay with them? That just sounds like a dad.
Me: Well, I am their dad.
7yo: That's not a job, what's your other job?
Me: I don't have one right now--
7yo: You lost your job?
Me: No, I left it so I could take care of them at home.
7yo: That was a dumb idea.
Me: ...
7yo: You could be making... a hundred dollars a week!
Me: *visualizes him doing Dr. Evil pinky gesture, chuckles inwardly*

(Other topics included Bakugan and the Coca-Cola museum.)
Great Scott!

Page Two: Bryce endorses the ThinkGeek Bluetooth Retro Handset

On our last move, we decided to lose the land line and go all-wireless for our telephony. A phone line at the house was another expense and we barely used it anyway. It's been almost a year now and we haven't looked back. During this time my cell phone and I have grown closer. I've gotten a bit more reliable about keeping it with me constantly.

Now, my phone is a fairly typical marvel of modern nanotechnology. It's got hours of music on it, Internet access, a navigation app with voice recognition, Bluetooth, a 3 Megapixel camera with video capability... and oh yeah, you can use it to make calls too. And perhaps most amazing of all, it's small enough to fit in the same pocket with my keys (just in case I should happen to want to scratch it all up like a turntable at a rap concert).

But therein lies my beef with the thing. It's designed for the human pocket, not the human head. It's uncomfortable to hold in the hand for any length of time. Forget cradling it on your shoulder while your hands are busy, it's so thin that you have to kink your neck at about an 80° angle to pin it there. And the flip-open style does get the microphone closer to my mouth than my old phone did, but it's still not quite close enough that I can talk at a volume that I consider normal. (And I can't stand "cell phone voice." It doesn't seem to bother most people to have to raise your voice to be heard, but it's kind of a pet peeve of mine, in any context.)

Enter this thing. It's a handset like old fashioned telephones used to have, back when cranial compatibility was a primary design goal -- there's a reason phones were shaped that way for so long, after all. But this one's got Bluetooth, so you can use it wirelessly.

I got myself one with birthday money a while back. It's as comfortable as I wanted it to be, holding it is like a friendly handshake. The classic shoulder-prop is a much more reasonable technique now, and it cups right up to my mouth so my soft normal voice is usually enough. I do need to crank up the headset volume on my phone to make the earpiece loud enough, but that works perfectly. The battery life is good, for my usage anyway. Two thumbs up!
  • Current Music
    Mike Doughty - Put It Down
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nature, moonlight

Lydia Sings Edelweiss



Every night before bed, I sing lullabyes to Lydia for a bit. She recently started singing them right along with me. We do three songs, and Edelweiss is the grand finale every night.

(Apologies to Facebook people who've seen it already.)
tardis, retropost

Writer's Block: Memo to Myself

If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to your younger self?

Hey, Bryce, it's me, which is to say you. I'm writing from about 20 years in your future. I remember very well how you're already half expecting this message, daydreaming how it would go, so I won't waste time with patronizing explanations.

I know you think you love someone, but you doubt yourself because, after all, you're just a kid, what do you know about love? Not to mention that she's going out with somebody else. But you should know that twenty years later, thinking about her still kind of feels that same way. Which, I realize, won't make it any easier on you there in your today. But you should always hold on in your heart, because she's told me that she's thought about us too.

Of course, that hardly even counts as advice, because I know full well that you'll be holding on in your heart anyway. I would also tell you that she's not the only fish in the sea, but you wouldn't hear it if I did.

Forget your plans, you don't really know what you want yet. I'm not sure you're ready to hear that either, though, which is part of the problem. Maybe I should've shot for an older you, but for whatever reason, you're the past that's on my mind today.

Enjoy the attached mix tape. I hope you like it, it took me a while to dig up a cassette deck to record it with. Notice a band called They Might Be Giants on there, you should get to New York soon and see them perform. You'll thank me later, but you should really thank Damon because he'll introduce you to them in a year or two, I'm only stealing his thunder.

Meanwhile, as soon as possible, get yourself on a boat and see the world. And send postcards to Grandma Betty along the way.

Write something down for me every once in a while too. It's the only way I'll be able to hear your true voice, don't count on me to remember what being you was like. You and I can't remember for crap. Try to remember that at least.

Steer clear of a girl named Michelle Lee Garrison, she's toxic. Observe the numerous warning signs. You deserve better.

A parting shot before I go: You're too cynical. While I can't quite say you're wrong to be, it doesn't make you happy. Just take it down a notch. Spend more time with Grandpa Bill, he knows how to be happy.

Just be yourself and have fun, and the people in your life will sort themselves out based on that.
Lip balm?

Chicken Mole Short Stack

Last night I tried to replicate a dish from my favorite casual Mexican restaurant in New York. They called it "budin poblano," which is a bit of a misnomer because it's not like a pudding at all. It did resemble a small cake, though, so maybe that's where they got the name.

Anyway it's a stack of tortillas layered with chicken, refried beans, sour cream, and mole. I served it with my ridiculously simple Ro-Tel and frozen corn combo. It turned out really well, I'm psyched because I have missed this dish so much over the years.

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Mmm, just as good on day two. It's kinda rich though, more of an occasional craving killer than a regular menu staple. Oops, I forgot to take a picture again tonight. Tomorrow, if I remember, I'll add one.
nature, moonlight

Jiggity Jig

Yesterday Laura suggested that we could come back home a day early, and that's what we did. She gets more time with the kids this way, and our own bed sounded quite a bit better than one more night and morning at Comfort Suites. So even though the trip was great fun and we enjoyed it, we headed on home yesterday.

But not before climbing to the top of Looking Glass Rock. My legs were still a little worn out from Tuesday's bike trek, so I was going kinda slow by the time we reached the summit. But it was worth it. The path opened up onto bare stone, sloping gradually to the cliff drop like a beach with sky instead of ocean. It may not have been the highest peak in sight, but standing on the brink, I was on the very edge of the planet. I felt the earth turning beneath me, scraping the sky as it went. It was exhilirating.

The four hour car ride home, while not exactly exhilirating, did give us a chance to sit still for a while, and by then I was quite appreciative of that. We made it home in time to tuck the kids into bed. They were happy to see us. Lydia seemed to have done way more than three days' worth of growing up. She's been bursting with Lydiacity today too, she treated us to a dance marathon. I'm so glad we didn't miss her this morning.
bike!

Asheville part 2

We started today with a ride on the trails at Bent Creek, in Pisgah National Forest. The trail we were on climbed up along a ridge and eventually circled Lake Powhatan. It was nice and shady, and the path itself was double-wide and gravel.

I have no idea how high it was or how much the elevation changed over our ride, but it was a lot more than we're used to. It was pretty challenging, but fun, we just walked the bikes when we had to. It was mostly just really long uphill stretches for the first half, and then of course much more downhill on the second half. My hand is actually a little sore from all the braking coming back down. It was great fun to do, the only drawback was that I was so focused on the road that I didn't see as much of the surrounding forest as I maybe would've liked. The air did me good anyway, though.

After that we headed back to Biltmore. We had a little snack, did the winery tour and sampled a few wines, and explored the old farm buildings out there. After a quick change of clothes, we dined at the inn. Oh man, what a meal. My brain quivered from the sensations my mouth was sending it. Sweet pea and wasabi soup. Crisp frog legs with goat cheese cake, apricot marmalade, and bell pepper tapenade. Prosciutto wrapped pheasant breast with smoked onion potato puree, broccolini, and carrot jus. NOM. Not quite ready for dessert, we took a brief constitutional around the grounds while the sun started toying with the idea of setting. Then coffee and a peanut butter bananas foster sundae.

We're missing the kids, but apparently they're having a great ol' time with their grandparents. Hopefully they're having as much fun as we are. Can't wait to hug 'em though.
cheers

Biltmore

Laura and I are in Asheville, NC for a few days, while her mom and stepdad watch the kids. Apparently that's going pretty well, the kids have reportedly been "little angels."

Today we went to the Biltmore and toured the house and gardens. As a residence, it's ludicrously opulent of course. It was cool seeing the servants' areas and imagining all the bustling it must've taken to operate everything. Resetting the bowling pins for the family and guests had to be one of the more humbling tasks, I imagine. And I can't imagine trying to cook for fifty or more people on a coal-burning stove.

Looking at all the luxury through modern eyes, it's easy to feel judgmental. I do think this level of indulgence is excessive and selfish. But back then it was admired and celebrated even more widely than it is today. Granted, the estate has certainly stimulated the local economy, and the family was charitable beyond that. But my admiration was tainted as I looked around. It would be harder to achieve this place today, I think. I wonder how long it'll be before we see a private residence to equal it. With the story of Michael Jackson's death all over the television right now, I found myself wondering if his Neverland Ranch will still exist a hundred years from now.

We shuffled through the house with a river of people, but the gardens were comparatively empty, in spite of the gorgeous weather. The place is really vast. We're going back tomorrow to see the winery and have dinner at the bistro there, after a morning of biking in the mountains. I would write more about today, but it's bedtime now.
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    sleepy
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